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Posts Tagged ‘memories’

‎I’ve been spending a lot of time there lately.‎

My 20 year high school reunion is next week. Although I’m not attending, my Facebook feed is clogged with posts and updates and pictures of names and faces I had long since forgotten. Or at least I thought I had forgotten.

Now I hear songs and am instantly taken back to moments sitting on couches, riding in the back of cars, simultaneously carefree and angst-filled, in the way only a 17 year old can be.

I can see the funny sculpture his mom had in their living room, count the number of steps from the back door of the school to the front door of the house, remember the look of her handwriting on the notes she wrote and then folded into intricate triangles.

And I can even almost feel that sense of nervous anticipation in my stomach; the feeling that something, anything, everything, was going to happen. ‎

I re-live scenes from those days as though I’m watching reruns of a show I used to love, shocked to realize how many of the lines I still remember.

Sometimes I catch glimpses of her, that girl with the curly hair and the sarcastic wit, the one who liked to make people think she had it all figured out. Sometimes she even convinced herself.

I see her in the same way I see all of the others, like a wisp of a memory, the edges blurry and faded but still recognizable. I realize that she is me, or at least she is a part of who I used to be. I don’t miss being her as much as I miss knowing her.

I remember that she used to be a pretty good time. I wish we could have a cup of tea and chat, sort of like a big sister and little sister. I would try (and fail) not to give her advice.  Not so much because I think she’ll do anything wrong but because I know she’ll spend way too much time trying to do everything right.

Instead, I would try to instill in her the self-esteem and confidence that end up making everything else so much easier.

People like you.  Really, they do.  And if there are some that don’t, it’s not your job to convince them otherwise.

You are beautiful, you really are.  Believing it and living that belief make it even more true.

Make the first move, go after what you want, trust your gut.  It’s okay to kiss the wrong people sometimes, it makes you even more thankful when you kiss the right one.

Two weeks from now my reunion will have come and gone and the faces that faded before will fade once again.  A song will be just a song and I will stop asking “what if” and go back to wondering “what’s next.”

At least until the next time I find myself on memory lane.

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‎The first inkling that it was coming happened about a year ago. A random Facebook message, a couple of emails and a quick survey to determine interest. After that I kind of forgot about it – or more truthfully I blocked it from my mind with sheer willpower and an unwavering belief that it couldn’t be, could it?

Has it really been that long?

No way, impossible, I’m not anywhere close to old enough!

And then this week, another Facebook message. It’s official; it’s happening, my 20 year high school reunion.

Groan.

I don’t yet know any of the details. I don’t know the where (except it will be “back home” in the city I grew up in which is 3,000 miles from where I live now), or the when (except for a vague reference to “sometime in the summer”). Apparently more information to follow.

I was much more definitive ten years ago (yes, no matter how I try to deny it, it has been that long) when it came time for the ten year reunion. There was never a doubt in my mind that I would go, of course I would! I was still in touch with a handful of friends from back then so I hopped on a plane with my then one and a half year old daughter and headed “home” to a place I hadn’t lived in half a dozen years. She spent the night with the grandparents and I had dinner with a friend before heading out. The anticipation was high.

It ended up being something of a letdown. In reality, I’m not sure if these things can be anything but. The venue was sketchy, the “appetizers” ‎were iffy and the DJ played the music so loud that you could hardly have a conversation with the person next to you.

I remember looking around the room and feeling like a character in a bad made-for-TV movie. Over in that corner, the jock who put on 50 pounds. Over by the bowl of Doritos, the party girl who still dressed like she’s 17. It all felt so clichéd.

Sure, it was nice to see a few people I had lost touch with and a couple more that I’d always wondered about, but mostly it became a reminder that we stay connected to the people that we want to stay connected to. The rest fall away for a reason.

Ten years was long enough for people to change but not so long as to be reinvented. Everyone was still familiar in a vague, “sure, I remember you” kind of way with not enough time having passed to do any really great things, or any really bad things for that matter.

And I could still see myself as I was in high school. I could still remember who I had been at 17. Although the gap between 17 and 27 had meant a few changes of address, a university degree, a wedding and a baby (among other things), I didn’t feel like I was drastically different from who I had been.

But now, another ten years on from that, that girl is so distant, so faded, so far removed that I’m not even sure I could dust her off for another round. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing – I wouldn’t want to be 17 again – and everyone else in the room won’t be 17 again either but the thought is just exhausting.

Awkward small talk while nursing a class of white wine in a plastic cup. Avoiding eye contact with my best friend from back then, with whom I had a falling out 12 years ago and haven’t spoken to since. Agonizing over what to wear – the fine line between trying too hard and not trying hard enough is a dangerous one to navigate. Running into an ex and discovering he has not aged well or worse, that he has. An evening of “remember when’s” that‎ no one really remembers. Forced smiles, exchanging emails, a dozen new Facebook friends that weren’t friends then and definitely aren’t now.

The thought of it just makes me tired.

I tell myself I will wait; I won’t make a decision right away. Maybe I will change my mind, maybe I will be hit with a wave of nostalgia so powerful that I will book a plane ticket and make an appointment to have my hair highlighted.

Maybe.

But I doubt it.

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‎I will remember…

Feet on the coffee table.

Pool towels hanging over the balcony, drying in the breeze.

Birds in the trees.

Sand on the floor.

Shoes piled by the door.

Splashing in the water.

Clapping from the deck.

A cold drink, warm sun and laughter.

Breathing deeply.

A clear mind.

Old friends and new memories.

Lazy days.

Peace.

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‎You’re seven today. In less than two hours it will be official. You’re very precise about these things, even asking me to find your watch so you can make note of the exact time at school.

9:11 a.m.

Right about now, seven years ago, we were still trying to get used to the idea that you were coming today, a couple of weeks earlier than planned. We left the house in a bit of a rush a few hours earlier, forgetting your sister’s shoes as we carried her, half asleep, out the door to the car to be dropped at grandma’s house on the way to the hospital.

We chatted about baby names on the way, in between contractions. We were still waffling on a girl’s name. Soon enough we would realize we wouldn’t need one anyway.

In a way it seems like only yesterday, the memories and feelings of those first moments and hours with you seem so clear. Sometimes I can’t recall things that happened last month or last week but almost every minute of that day seems etched in my mind forever.

And then I look at you now, at seven (or almost) and can’t believe it’s you. I see you run around with your friends, learn to ride a bike, meander along the sidewalk on your way to school, your backpack bouncing every step of the way, and I almost lose my breath.

Last year you played hockey for the first time, falling down every second step but always getting up one more time than you fell down. This year you decided you wanted to be a goalie and, admittedly, I wasn’t sure. But you did it. You made the top level competitive team in our area and skated out there every day, padded up in so much equipment that I often wondered how you could move at all, let alone stride from side to side and end up doing the splits.

In your final game, one your team needed to win for the championship, you played the overtime and then the referee announced it would go to penalty shots. I looked at you down on the ice, all alone in your net, and I wanted to yell at them to stop, that you were only six and couldn’t possibly be expected to do this.

But you did. And when you made the final big save and your team went and scored at the other end I could see your grin from ear to ear, even through the bars on your mask.

And suddenly, in my mind you were eight months old again, sitting and splashing in the tub; two years old again, tottering around the house with an ever-present apple in your hand; four years old, heading off for your first day of school; six years old, graduating from senior kindergarten.

Perhaps that is the way it always is for parents. While those around us see our kids as who they are, in that moment, we can’t help but see them as they were, the previous versions of themselves all rolled up together.

So you’ll have to forgive me if today, when you blow out your candles, you look up and see a few tears in my eyes. I’m not sad, I promise. I’m just so proud of the little boy you have become and so excited to see what comes next.

Happy Birthday Buddy.

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‎She wore a bright pink rain jacket, the sleeves turned up at the cuffs and the hood bouncing against her back as she ran.

It was the colour that caught my attention as I sat in my car, about 15 cars back from the stop sign, waiting. I fiddled with the buttons on my stereo, trying to find a song other than Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.” Not that I have anything against Katy Perry, per se, but is it just me or does it seem like that particular song is on the radio all the time?

As I fiddled with the buttons, out of the corner of my eye I saw the pink. Bright pink. I turned my head and saw her running down the sidewalk, the smile on her face so big and wide that I couldn’t help but feel myself grin just watching her.

I guessed that she would be about a year and a half, determined b‎y nothing else other than the fact that she was running at a pretty decent pace but still had that “I could fall over at any moment” look about her. I had forgotten that I remembered that look.

The mother in me pulled my eyes away from her long enough to confirm that someone was there with her, and I saw what I assumed was her mother trotting along behind her. She wore a thin cardigan that she tried to pull tighter as she walked, an obvious attempt to keep herself warm in the cool winds of early spring.

Of course she made sure that her daughter was bundled up tight in a rain jacket and boots but she didn’t even remember to grab a jacket for herself. How automatically we mothers tend to put ourselves second. I wanted to get out of my car and give her my jacket, believing desperately that mothers also need someone to mother us sometimes.

It became obvious to me that the little girl was not running away from her mother but was rather running towards someone. I turned my head to see if I could catch a glimpse of who ‎she was running to, but my sight line was obscured. I imagined it was her dad, just off the train, walking quickly home to her, desperate to see her smiling face and little legs pumping as fast as they could carry her.

I imagined that’s why her mom was smiling too, because dad coming home meant she had made it through another day. How intensely I can remember that feeling from my own time at home when my kids were little. The feeling of crossing the finish line (finally) and having some help (finally) and maybe, just maybe, a warm bath and ten minutes of peace and quiet (finally) would be in my future.

It may not have been her dad. It may have been someone completely different, or even something completely different and not a person at all. But I’m choosing to believe it was her dad and that when they finally got close enough to each other, that he dropped the bag he was carrying ‎and lifted her up into the sky, spinning her around a few times before hugging her tightly to his chest.

I’m choosing to believe it because sometimes it’s nice to imagine the happy endings for a change, instead of always seeing the unhappy realities.

Every now and then it’s nice to see past the dreary grey of the world and let in a little bit of bright pink.

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Some days I am the tree, my feet firmly rooted in the ground and my arms outstretched to the sky, taking in all of the endless possibilities.

And some days I am the kid in the Winnie the Pooh cordoroy overalls hanging from the branches, screaming to get down.

Hang in there

Hang in there!

(Yes, this is a picture of me as a child.  According to family legend I used to stand under this tree in our backyard and whine until someone lifted me up to hang off the branch.  After hanging there for all of ten seconds I would, apparently, start crying until someone came and got me down. 

Then I would whine to get back up. 

You get the idea. 

I personally dispute the authenticity of the story.)

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‎I planned to write tonight. I planned to sit down in front of my computer, a cup of steaming hot, sweet milky tea sitting on the desk beside me, and write.

I planned to finally try and write a submission for the short story contest that I entered last year and was hoping to enter again this year. I’ve had a few ideas floating around in my head for the last few days and I was planning to finally get something down on paper.

I should have known better.

It seems that whenever I plan to write, a dozen other things pop up and get in my way. It seems that whenever I plan to write, I actually fail to write anything at all.

Instead plans got changed and I ended up cuddling with my daughter on my bed, watching a movie we had already seen. We painted her nails and ate snacks and when we were done I put my arms around her and she tucked her head under my chin, her hair tickling my neck.

When the movie was finished I put her to bed and kissed her cheek, brushing her hair out of her face and inhaling the sweet scent of her. All too often these days I forget about these moments with her, I think she’s too old and I’m too busy and that we’re not in that place where we once were‎.

But then we have a night like this, a night where I was planning to do other things but instead spent the night curled up with a little girl who is not going to be little very much longer. And now, as the night draws to a close I haven’t written any part of a short story; I didn’t even turn on my computer.

I didn’t do anything at all that I planned.

And it was pretty great.

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